Getting Past No

Photo by Griffin Keller

My friend and colleague, Dr. Scott Cormode, is brilliant when it comes to helping organizations/ministries/churches navigate change.  He’s helped the 12 churches in our Sticky Faith Learning Cohort figure out HOW to bring about change once they’ve identified WHAT needs to change.

Scott recommends the book Getting Past No by William Ury as a way to do what its subtitle states:  “negotiating in difficult situations” (not that I ever have those, of course).   My next few blog posts are going to summarize my highlights from this great and practical book.

The author reports that Lord Caradon, a British Diplomat, was once asked about the most valuable lesson he learned during his long and distinguish government career.  Caradon shared that early in his career, he was an assistant to a local administrator in the Middle East.  Every day, Caradon and his boss would visit a different village to deal with disputes and other pressing matters.  Once the local administrator arrived in the village, he would be overwhelmed with villagers besieging him with requests and offering coffee.  There was such demand for his time that the administrator developed a simple practice to help him stay focused on his objectives.

Just before he entered the village, he would pull the jeep off to the side of the road and ask, “What is it that we want to leave this village tonight having accomplished?”  After Caradon and his boss had an answer, he would then restart the jeep and enter the village.  When they left that evening, they would again pull over to the side of the road and discuss, “Now, did we get it?  Did we achieve what we set out to do?”

Sometimes when I am getting ready for a meeting, I ask myself the same question:  What is my goal here?  What do I want to have accomplished when we’re done?  It’s a helpful exercise to make sure I stay on track.

What do you do to try to stay focused on your goals in a discussion or meeting?